The Importance of Good Friends

FriendshipI seem to have got out of the habit of writing my blog on a regular basis, as I sat down to write I wondered why that is. Yes, I have been busy, work has been hectic, much has happened within my family requiring my focus and attention over the last few months. But I haven’t found time for some of the things that I enjoy and that give me joy. My writing here, and progress with my novel have all but halted. I’ve become distracted by things that drag me down, which have suffocated any creativity I was developing. It is temporary of course, but nonetheless frustrating that I have not felt able to do some of the things that I find most rewarding.

Having written that opening paragraph, which I will leave as it stands, it now feels a rather empty and hollow thing to have opened with. Because as I continue to write it is only a few days after the terrorist atrocities (I will not give them their own noun – they do not deserve that recognition) in Paris. Surely a time that reminds us all of how fragile our existence can be. That fragility is perhaps a reason not to give up on the things that make us happy, or the people who make us happy and, hopefully, who we make happy. Social media has been awash with messages along the lines of “love will defeat hate” – we should believe that, we should all believe that totally and squash the hatred. I am not going to focus on the terrorists in this post, rather I am going to remind us – myself mostly – of the importance of friendship – a type of love that brings us together and unites us against those who would divide us.

It doesn’t always seem that easy to be happy and content does it? Whatever events occur in our lifetimes, as individuals we tend to move through different phases, changes of job, house moves, sometimes major location moves, looking for what will make us happy. Quite often that is based around people. I am not the type of person that allows too many folks to get close to me. I like to think that I am selective, but in reality, although I am a fairly successful businessman and can network, socialize and “schmooze” with the best of them, I actually find more personal social gatherings and friendships less comfortable. That maybe because in business a lot of it is an “act”; I control what people see and what they know about me. Friends tend to know me better, some of them have been there through the good times and the bad times, they have seen the ‘real me’, or rather parts of me that I wouldn’t share with anyone else.

These people are few and far between. And when you have them it is important to hold them dear. This year as a family we travelled to Canada and then to our favourite part of the world – San Diego – to spend two lovely weeks in what is, for us, a perfect climate. It was made all the more perfect by our friends Ed and Betsy, both former colleagues we have stayed in touch for more than 15 years and in that time our children have become like niece and nephew to them. The night out at the San Diego ‘Corvette Diner’ (without mum and dad!) has achieved legendary status – it was a raucous affair by all accounts! This year our flight timings were not as friendly as usual so, while we waited for our apartment to be ready,  Ed and Betsy threw their doors open to us allowing us to invade their lovely home, use their bathrooms, and play with the ageing but delightful Chloe (their little dog) and on top of that they prepared us a sumptuous feast of all the things they know we like. On the homeward journey it was the same, even giving us a mini guided tour of parts of San Diego. Good friends indeed. Cherished friends.

A piece about friendship would be incomplete without Shakespeare's Sonnet 104

A piece about friendship would be incomplete without Shakespeare’s Sonnet 104

There are no conditions with people like this wonderful couple. At a time when I have struggled with conditional relationships with closer family this is very refreshing, and as I look around and become more aware of those people who have unconditional relationships with me I realise that they are rare, and very special people. It may be the work colleague who, noticing that I had been unwell and then unavailable for a while due to various health appointments checked up on me, for no other reason than that she was concerned about my wellbeing. It maybe the friend who, sensing my unease over something I am struggling with, places a steadying and reassuring hand on my shoulder.

The people who grace our lives enrich us. We don’t always tell each other anything like that, and maybe we should. It’s not just a case of telling your nearest and dearest that you love them, though that’s important. It’s also about appreciating friendships, sometimes these maybe fleeting as people pass through our lives, there maybe those that are longer lasting but peter out when someones moves, and some maybe lifetime relationships. It doesn’t really matter as long as while we are part of each others lives we take and make time for each other. I’ve tried to do that more in 2015, there are the friends I mentioned above, but I’ve also reconnected with old school-mates; Andy, Sarah, Gill and Terry. Amazingly that was like picking up where we left off, well maybe not exactly as it has been around 35 years since we were last together, but the conversations and laughs did flow!

What I am really getting at in this post is that friendships should be cherished and nourished. In the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, with all the bad things that are happening in our world and the daily gloomy headlines, making time for each other, to talk, laugh, debate, have fun, reminisce, plan the next party or dinner, could, and perhaps should, be some of the most important and central of our priorities.